Technology, where is it taking us?

Deborah Levy (Department of Property, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.)

Journal of Property Investment & Finance

ISSN: 1463-578X

Publication date: 2 February 2015


Levy, D. (2015), "Technology, where is it taking us?", Journal of Property Investment & Finance, Vol. 33 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Technology, where is it taking us?

Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Property Investment & Finance, Volume 33, Issue 1

As academics we cannot help but engage with technology everyday of our lives whether it be part of our teaching or research. In this editorial I have taken the opportunity to ponder on how technology is affecting and will continue to effect classroom teaching and provide the potential for new and exciting research.

My attendance at the upcoming ERES Education seminar which will focus on technology, has led me to question, are we as teachers and researchers ready to embrace what the future may bring? In particular it highlights how new technology has transformed the role of the “teacher”. If utilised effectively this technology has the ability to improve and enhance the student learning experience. Thus, as educators we all need to be aware of what is out there and what we want to achieve, it is important that we don’t blindly embrace technology just because of its accessibility. We need to ask ourselves what value we can add to our students learning in and out of the classroom setting and why they would want to attend University rather than sign on to a MOOC?

The way we communicate with our students has changed dramatically in recent years, they are now able to contact us anytime and anywhere via e-mail, social media and even texts. In many universities lectures are now being videoed and uploaded online and students make up their mind whether it is “worth their time” to turn up in person. Given this, we are now in a position where we have to decide whether to design our courses to incentivise and encourage student attendance and interaction, or just throw everything up online. We also choose whether to embrace a blended learning solution and accept that a “flipped learning” model may be best where students undertake their learning at home at their own speed and come into class for discussion and interaction.

Over a period of less than 20 years the lecture space has changed dramatically, it seems not so long ago when presenters entered the room armed with a piece of chalk and their notes, then on to acetates and overhead projectors and currently PowerPoints. Now a computer, large screens with access to the internet is the minimum expectation. Suddenly we are being offered an endless array of options to inform, interact and engage with our class of Digital Natives. These can range from the inclusion of videos into the classroom using clips from YouTube or other places on the internet or self-made video cases. We also have access to an array of internet learning tools including “Top Hat”, an internet-based student response system where students respond on their own devices (such as a smartphone, tablet or laptop) to a range of question types in real time. Free online systems such as “Aropa” provide a peer review platform that enables students to assess classmates’ work via a double blind review. “Peerwise” allows students to draft practice questions to be shared with their classmates and “Piazza” where students pose questions to their peers, with academics or teaching assistants contributing where necessary. These if used effectively and in the right environment can make the classroom an exciting and engaging learning environment and our job is to be aware of the benefits of each of these options and identify which would be suitable for our particular courses and style of teaching. Given the virtual classroom will we soon be co-teaching with leading academics from other parts of the globe? The opportunities are limitless!

In 2005, JPIF published a special edition devoted to technology and real estate. Tim Dixon in his editorial concluded that more research was needed to determine the impact of technology on the real property market. He suggested that longitudinal analyses may reveal the effect of change. This continues to be the case, there is still much that we do not know. He discussed research findings providing evidence that technology has affected the real estate market in both the business and also investment value of buildings. For example ICT has encouraged changes in workplace practices, resulting in increased flexible working such as activity-based-working and the design of sustainable buildings. There has also been the emergence of new categories of real estate and the location of property types. Property professionals themselves have also been impacted by technology for example the real estate agent’s role as the gatekeeper of property information has weakened given the ready access to online property data.

All these continual changes provide new and exciting opportunities for researchers in all areas of our discipline. Research findings can then be incorporated into our teaching to ensure that not only we, but the future generation of academics and property professionals are able to evaluate the emerging property landscape.

The content of this journal issue covers a variety of important topics deepening our understanding of property markets. They include market maturity, inflation hedging and protection characteristics of infrastructure and real estate assets, the performance of Singapore REITS and returns to UK property lending. It would be interesting understand how each of these issues may have been affected by technology. Has it impacted on investor preference and lending preferences, are there cross-cultural differences? The list goes on.

Deborah Levy